MANHATTAN BEACH COMMUNITY GROUP
From the desk of the President:
The following is a copy of an article authored by Alex Ellefson that appeared in Sheepsheadbites on February 25th along with our response on behalf of everyone and every community in Southern Brooklyn.
Frustrated Neighbors Find Few Answers About Projects To Protect Waterfronts From Flooding
Manhattan Beach Community Group member Shari Kaplan, left, standing next to officials from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and the Department of Environmental Protection. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)
Frustrations boiled over at a Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting Tuesday when city officials showed up empty handed in front of residents demanding solutions that would protect their communities from coastal flooding.
“Why is there no solution yet? Isn’t that your job to come and propose a solution?” one man shouted. “The water is rising. People are saying their homes are flooding. It’s been three years after Sandy. So what are you guys waiting for?”
Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency listened wide-eyed as residents inundated them with questions about why their communities are still vulnerable three years after Superstorm Sandy. The issue took on greater urgency this month when creeks appeared in the streets after a high tide overwhelmed sewers and sent water gushing out of the storm drains.
The representatives had few answers to assuage neighbors’ concerns.
“There’s not a solution today that we can implement. It needs to be studied,” said DEP Deputy
Commissioner Eric Landau. “Obviously, some of our infrastructure is very old. The short answer is: Yes, it’s something that over the course of the next year or so we are going to be looking at.”
That answer infuriated some at the meeting — who pointed out that millions of dollars from the federal government had been set aside for resiliency projects in their communities after Superstorm Sandy.
“You’re telling me your going to look at this in a year? I’m telling you that we’re going to have a major flood within a year,” said Manhattan Beach resident Rina Dweck.
Audience members repeatedly asked about a project to install sewer cut-off valves to prevent backups during floods. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY Rising initiative dedicated more than $9 million to have the valves installed in homes and sewers throughout southern Brooklyn, but community leaders say they haven’t seen a dime of that money.
“I told these guys they would be put through the ringer tonight,” said Manhattan Beach Community Group President Judy Baron. “The grey hair was here before but it’s whiter now. The bottom line is that we have seen zippo from these projects.”
Landau did offer details about a plan to install 7,000 bioswales (small patches of vegetation and soil that soak up floodwaters) throughout the city. But that project is not likely to be completed for seven to eight years, he said. Landau also recommended neighbors reach out to elected officials to identify clogged catch basins so that rainwater is better able to drain from the streets.
News that more government projects are in the offing exasperated many who felt like they have been handed empty promises for too many years.
“What do we have to do in order to get some kind of response from the government? You keep studying these things for years and years and years. But nothing gets done here,” said Rubin Margelis.
City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who has joined other Brooklyn representatives in calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to study coastal protection plans for southern Brooklyn’s waterfront communities, summed up the feelings of many residents who live in the flood zones.
“Unfortunately, we live in fear every time there’s a storm. We look out our windows to see what’s coming,” he said. “There need to be solutions.”
The following is a copy of a letter sent to Sheepsheadbites in response to the article above:
MANHATTAN BEACH COMMUNITY GROUP Dear Alex, Thank you for your fine coverage of our meeting regarding “recovery” from Superstorm Sandy. Disappointment, disgust and fear for the future were themes we heard from residents not only from Manhattan Beach, but from others living in southern Brooklyn. There appear to be no interim plans, no far-into-the-future plans—nothing to stop the ravages of an even small scale weather event!
Those of us from Gerritsen Beach-Sheepshead Bay-Manhattan Beach-Brighton Beach-Coney Island and Sea Gate who participated for months on citizen NY Rising Committees established by Governor Cuomo have seen nothing “Rising” of any significance except, perhaps, for the salaries paid to the many consultants hired to help find solutions to community problems! It has been well over two years since all of our communities were devastated by Superstorm Sandy and we have not only seen nothing of significance, but no interim measures have been forthcoming! Oh yes, we hear about studies! And more studies! And after the studies–years of how to implement the studies! But nothing NOW! As we all watch the current presidential debates, we hear every candidate say that the most important function of government is to keep its citizens safe! So I ask the questions: Why not here in southern Brooklyn???? And if not now: When????
Judy Baron, President